What are Altcoins?
What are Altcoins?
Even though one name comes to mind when most people hear "cryptocurrency", there are hundreds of smaller coins serving different purposes. Some like Ripple (XRP) connects banks on a global scale, some like STEEM use social media blockchains and others like Ether (ETH) fuel their entire platform.
Altcoins are merely alternative coins to the first and most popular, Bitcoin. At the time of this writing CoinMarketCap list 728 currencies. Most of these are Bitcoin copies, only having minor alterations to code and algorithms. Others don't last nearly as long because of poor infrastructure or funding in a fast paced environment.
Altcoins allow developers to experiment with new features and further decentralize the entire market.
These alternatives are more volatile that Bitcoin because of their young market caps. They are also more prone to market manipulation tactics like "pump and dump". This occurs when a "whale" or investor holding a large quantity of the currency sells all of his shares for a massive profits. This tanks the price and leaves investors at major loses if not careful.
This is why its important to take your time and do your homework. It is not wise to invest in coins you don't understand. Study up and make sure they have legit backing and good teams with a promising vision. You don't want to hand over your hard earned money because you followed the "hype" of the next big Alton or ICO.
You can see every alt coin here. Applications like Shapeshift.io allow users to convert coins. So you can use Bitcoin to convert value into smaller alt coins, thus diversifying your digital portfolio.
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